Skip to main content

Sarah Palin follows the Donald Trump method

By James C. Moore, Special to CNN
updated 8:46 AM EDT, Tue October 29, 2013
Sarah Palin speaks at the National Rifle Association Leadership Forum in Houston in May.
Sarah Palin speaks at the National Rifle Association Leadership Forum in Houston in May.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • James Moore: Sarah Palin's revival on the tea party stage increases her brand recognition
  • Moore: She's a marketing machine, taking every opportunity to raise her profile
  • Moore: Palin promotes tea party candidates in safe districts, never runs for office
  • He says her re-emergence comes just before release of her book defending Christmas

Editor's note: James C. Moore is a business consultant and partner at Big Bend Strategies, a business messaging firm. He is co-author of "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential" and a TV political analyst.

(CNN) -- Sarah is selling Sarah. The former vice presidential candidate and half-term governor of Alaska is a commodity of one and a marketing machine. She has created a new politics of profit.

Palin's reanimation on the tea party stage probably means no more than the other intentions she has floated but never executed. She spent almost a year of the last presidential election cycle teasing the far right that she was going to run for president. She never did, but lots of network TV interviews and speculative articles drove up her name recognition and brand identification.

And she's not running again.

James C. Moore
James C. Moore

Palin is re-running the same show in her home state of Alaska by hinting that she is going to be a candidate for the U.S. Senate. She will not run though. There is too much risk of failure. She's not the near-unknown who was elected governor of Alaska and then quit 2½ years into the job. She has a profile, and she intends to use it to make money, which is one commitment she knows how to keep. Running and losing is always bad for business.

Palin is a product. Not a candidate.

Politically, Sarah Palin is an opposite gender version of Donald Trump. She makes grandiloquent statements about candidacies and a future that she knows will never transpire. Trump and Palin lack the courage to run for president but have profitably monetized the speculation about a candidacy. Trump cannot abide the notion of losing, which he knows is inevitable, and he fears what that might do to his image and revenue stream. Palin is self-aware enough to realize that she has neither the intellect nor popular support outside the increasingly unpopular tea party.

So why not make a buck?

In the detritus of the McCain-Palin presidential campaign, the second name emerged as the lead act. The first nine months after her resignation as governor, at the end of July 2009, Palin reportedly earned $12 million, including a book deal, a TV show and speaking fees that were generally more than $100,000 per appearance.

It's not hard to tell whether principle is more important than profit for the failed vice presidential candidate. The tea party has been charged $100,000 for a Palin speech, and, even as she promotes support of charities, a Toronto cancer center a few years ago paid $200,000 for her to attend a fund-raiser, and the event sold out at $200 a seat. Her politics and intelligence might be trifling, but Palin appears to have evolved a very nice business model: Raise the profile to raise the revenue, mostly for herself.

And she's back at it.

Until recently, Palin hasn't been too active, except on social media. She seems to have the entire national tea party population on her Facebook page, but the TV cameras had not been showing up when she gave her bargain-priced speeches. A love spat with Fox News that kept her off the air and then back into the network's arms has left her fans confused. Donations to Sarah PAC fell off. Why was no one paying attention?

Palinians should not fear. She has seen opportunity in the tea party and its plans to beat moderate Republicans in GOP primaries. This is a nearly risk-free approach to increased Sarah-wareness.

The candidate runs, Palin speaks and rallies the initiates. She endorses, and if the campaign fails it is the candidate's fault, not Palin's; she's moved on to help in another race. But the cameras came, reporters took notes, images were broadcast, words were published, and Palin's price went up.

Timing is critical to maximizing opportunity, of course. When the federal government shut down as a consequence of tea party obstinacy, Palin jetted off to Washington to help her ideological consort, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, as they crashed the "Barrycades" at the National World War II Memorial.

Those cameras and bullhorns and journalists were there. Palin had just arrived from New Jersey, where she had endorsed the hopeless tea party candidacy of Steve Lonegan, who lost, soundly, but not without Sarah getting TV time in New York.

In business school, they teach "know your customer." Palin might have attended that class because she is promising to help tea party candidates unseat GOP U.S. senators in South Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee in 2014. The Sarah Promoting Sarah tour begins, however, several months ahead at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Foundation dinner on November 9.

In what is almost certainly a coincidence of timing, just three days later, Palin's new book goes on sale for the holidays. She has not written about the Constitution or her understanding of Paul Revere in the Revolutionary War; Palin, instead, is doing the much more challenging work of preventing further harm to Christmas. "Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas," can already be pre-ordered. Get yours now. Or just send a check to Palin. She might not understand politics or policy, but Palin knows money.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of James C. Moore.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Robert Hickey says most new housing development is high-end, catering to high-earners.
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Alexander Motyl says as Russian President Putin snarled at Ukraine, his foreign minister was signing a conciliatory accord with the West. Whatever the game, the accord is a major stand down by Russia
updated 8:29 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Les Abend says at every turn, the stowaway teen defied the odds of discovery and survival. What pilot would have thought to look for a person in the wheel well?
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Q & A with artist Rachel Sussman on her new book of photographs, "The Oldest Living Things in the World."
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Martin Blaser says the overuse of antibiotics threatens to deplete our bodies of "good" microbes, leaving us vulnerable to an unstoppable plague--an "antibiotic winter"
updated 1:37 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
John Sutter asks: Is it possible to eat meat in modern-day America and consider yourself an environmentalist without being a hypocrite?
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Sally Kohn notes that Meb Keflezighi rightly was called an American after he won the Boston Marathon, but his status in the U.S. once was questioned
updated 8:56 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Denis Hayes and Scott Denman say on this Earth Day, the dawn of the Solar Age is already upon us and the Atomic Age of nuclear power is in decline
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Retired Coast Guard officer James Loy says a ship captain bears huge responsibility.
updated 1:08 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Peter Bergen says the latest strikes are part of an aggressive U.S. effort to target militants, including a bomb maker
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Cynthia Lummis and Peter Welch say 16 agencies carry out national intelligence, and their budgets are top secret. We need to know how they are spending our money.
updated 8:35 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Julian Zelizer says President Obama knows more than anyone that he has much at stake in the midterm elections.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Eric Sanderson says if you really want to strike a blow for the environment--and your health--this Earth Day, work to get cars out of cities and create transportation alternatives
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Bruce Barcott looks at the dramatic differences in marijuana laws in Colorado and Louisiana
updated 4:47 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jim Bell says NASA's latest discovery supports the notion that habitable worlds are probably common in the galaxy.
updated 2:17 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jay Parini says even the Gospels skip the actual Resurrection and are sketchy on the appearances that followed.
updated 1:52 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Graham Allison says if an unchecked and emboldened Russia foments conflict in a nation like Latvia, a NATO member, the West would have to defend it.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
John Sutter: Bad news, guys -- the pangolin we adopted is missing.
updated 2:25 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Ben Wildavsky says we need a better way to determine whether colleges are turning out graduates with superior education and abilities.
updated 6:26 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Charles Maclin, program manager working on the search and recovery of Malaysia Flight 370, explains how it works.
updated 8:50 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jill Koyama says Michael Bloomberg is right to tackle gun violence, but we need to go beyond piecemeal state legislation.
updated 2:45 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT